The Mountains of Instead

Championing fiction as an escape from pandemics, politics and bad TV.

Gone, But Not Forgotten (Review: Shadow Kiss; R. Mead)

Shadow Kiss
Richelle Mead
Razorbill 2010 (this edition)

Shadow Kiss is the third book in the Vampire Academy series and this review therefore contains spoilers for both Vampire Academy and Frostbite. Come back when you've read them.

Back at St. Vlad's, Rose is reeling from the events of Frostbite. It's all a bit game-changing and Richelle Mead turns the tension up to eleven in this pacy, action filled, info packed installment.

Rose really isn't doing so well, struggling with recent events and dealing with her ever unclear relationship with Dimitri. She is also becoming aware that all may not be well on campus, with some Royal Moroi looking to nefarious means in order to guarantee their continued protection. A visit to the Royal Court doesn't help matters, especially as Rose is treated to an audience with bitch Queen, Tatiana. As if this weren't enough, the rather alarming implications of her psychic bond with Lissa are crystallising, she's in a crappy mood almost all the time and...oh yeah...she's seeing ghosts.

I enjoyed this book far more than the first two in the series as, for me, it was far more plot driven while also successfully continuing to focus on the characters and politics of Rose and Lissa's world. The sheer amount of information packed into Shadow Kiss's pages is impressive with the author running together several different story threads and creating yet more to be picked up later.

Rose's character development is excellent. She's not always the most likable character in Shadow Kiss but this only adds to the believability of her story. At times she feels, and sometimes is, completely out of control yet always just manages to pull herself back from the brink. Again her relationship with Dimitri remains uncertain and there is now the added dimension of crazy Aidy (yep, I coined that myself) emerging as a potential suitor through a sea of green eyes and clove cigarettes.

Lissa isn't much help to Rose, too busy rediscovering her magic to pay much attention to her best friend. I really don't like her much, particularly her assumption that Rose will get her out of any sticky situation she wanders into. While she does start to show a little backbone, it's not nearly enough to redeem her. She plans for her future completely heedless of what Rose may want. It's not cruel, just mindless and the author cleverly uses this relationship to illustrate that of the Dhampir and Moroi in general. No matter the clever writing, though, Lissa is going to have to seriously step outside her own head for me to start liking her.

Dimitri is...well...Dimitri. He's hot and lovely (especially now that I have mentally erased his pony tail) yet his character hasn't changed much – although I foresee some major changes ahead. Of greater interest, boy-wise, are Christian and Adrian. Both continue to develop as interesting characters with Christian's status as a Moroi outcast fueling his independent thought on his people's lifestyle and politics. I'm particularly curious to see where the author heads with Adrian as his play boy persona is surely masking hidden woes and wonders. Even if it's not, he's still my favourite.

By the end of Shadow Kiss, the Vampire Academy world is askew on its axis. The gripping climax is fantastically exciting, heart-breaking, confusing and all round brilliant. As we leave St. Vlad's the school is in complete crisis, Lissa is sulking (so the world's not that askew then) and Rose is trudging down a bleak road that can surely only lead to violence and heartbreak...or perhaps not. Bring on book four, as I am officially addicted.

Shadow Kiss is available in bookshops now.  Thank you to Puffin for sending me this title to review.
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